Tag Archives: Defense

Defense, Dinner, and Dancing Days

What a busy, but exciting week! Apologies for not posting sooner, but this week was filled with another ATLANTIS thesis defense, Taco Tuesday, three time-consuming assignments (all for this week), an all-day field trip on Friday, a spring barbecue, and a concert in Malmö on Saturday!

Where to start!? Monday was the first day of my new Silviculture course, a two-week section of my current Broadleaves course that deals specifically with:

International Video Conference Defense
International Video Conference Defense
  • Principles for traditional management of different broadleaved species
  • The use and market of hardwood and requirements on timber quality
  • The assets and economic potential of broadleaves in the Baltic region
  • Traditional management of broadleaves compared to the new concept of “close to nature forestry

The first day we received three assignments (ALL to be completed this week):

  1. Silviculture models for broadleaved species – working in pairs, we were assigned to completely research (from soil requirements to the current market values) a popular tree species in Sweden. I researched birch.
  2. Assets and potential of broadleaves in the Baltic region – a group project in which my group was assigned to research the silvicultural and economic aspects of the tree species in the Leningrad Oblast region of Russia.
  3. Traditional forestry vs. close to nature forestry – an online discussion/debate in which you needed to prepare a well-researched argument for or against these management techniques, and then interact with fellow students through an online discussion forum.

In addition, my fellow ATLANTIS/MTU friend Margus, arrived to Sweden from Estonia. On Tuesday, April 12, he successfully defended his thesis. Margus’ thesis research was completed during his year at MTU near Houghton, entitled: ‘Tracing the Source of Groundwater for Three Different Coastal Peatlands Along Lake Superior‘. Following his defense, we celebrated by having ‘Taco Tuesday’. My fellow MTU friend and I prepared proper tacos – of which we have been craving since we left the United States. Though Kebab and felafel stands can be found on almost every street corner, Mexican-inspired foods and flavors are not popular in Europe or Scandinavia, (for obvious geographic reasons). It was an especially exciting night as my Russian flat mate and a few of my Russian classmates had their FIRST burrito/taco!


The menu consisted of:

  • Chris J’s famous Bacon Black Beans
  • ‘Dirty’ tomato and olive rice
  • Wheat Tortillas
  • Corn chips
  • Salsa
  • Toppings: Lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and greek yogurt
  • Dessert: Double chocolate carmel cake 😛 and a traditional Finnish Easter-time dessert called mämmi

Wednesday and Thursday were spent working on, turning in, and attending a discussion on our assignments for silviculture. Friday was an all-day field trip to Snogeholm in which we discussed our researched tree species, looked at multiple management techniques, and learned about current landscape architecture trends. The weather was wonderful, and after a long day of hiking in the woods the students got together and had a barbecue.

To end my week, I was convinced to go see some live music at a club in Malmö , called Debaser. I was absolutely blown away by the band performing that night, a Swedish all-girl band called Those Dancing Days. Interestingly enough, their name derives from the Led Zeppelin song “Dancing Days” 🙂 They are now one of my favorite bands!

Those Dancing Days
Those Dancing Days

Estonian Excellence!

An apology to anyone looking forward to my adventures in St. Petersburg, but  this past week was especially exciting at SLU, and I could not skip writing about it. I will post about St. Petersburg later this week I PROMISE!

Congratulations Arvo!
Congratulations Arvo!

So what made this past week so special you may ask? Not only did my two Estonian ATLANTIS colleagues visit, (Arvo and Margus), but Arvo successfully defended his Master’s thesis on Warming Alters Photosynthetic Rates of Sub-Boreal Peatland Vegetation. The defense itself was a production, as it was internationally broadcast from Alnarp, Sweden, to Michigan Tech in Houghton, and even to the Umeå Campus in northern Sweden. This entailed coordinating international times, schedules, and advisors. Because of the way the ATLANTIS Programme works, each student has an advisor in the United States and an advisor in Scandinavia/Europe. Arvo’s advisors are Dr. Rodney Chimner (MTU) and Dr. Eric  Agestam (SLU), both wonderful people and scientists. Dr. Eric Agestam is also the SLU ATLANTIS coordinator, and is very active with SLU’s International EUROFORESTER Masters course. This is the course which ATLANTIS students participate in while at SLU. Eric has been especially helpful and active during my time at SLU 🙂 He has a wonderful sense of humor, especially when I even had to ask him how to write my flat address correctly when I moved to Sweden!

When causally asked during his defense, “what have you learned or taken away from the ATLANTIS Programme?,”  Arvo answered along the lines of “the people and the cultural experience” – I couldn’t agree more. I feel so privileged to be part of the ATLANTIS Programme, and essentially the ‘ATLANTIS family’. The people I have met throughout this program have truly changed my life, the cultural experiences have truly been incomparable, and the people running this program have done an amazing job. I am going to take this opportunity to ‘plug’ the ATLANTIS Program, and highly suggest applying if you can – (check out the ATLANTIS website here) – contact the coordinator in your region and get started as soon as possible! Also, I am more than willing to answer questions about the ATLANTIS Program for current or future students, though my experience in the United States is limited to Michigan Tech in Houghton.

Chris and Arvo - 'MTU Crew'
Chris and Arvo - part of the 'MTU Crew'

It was wonderful to have the ‘MTU Crew’ back together again – it felt like just yesterday we were all back in Houghton, Michigan. I pray that we will some how find a way to have an ATLANTIS reunion in the future. I would also like to extend a special ‘thank you’ to Chris Johnson, my fellow MTU ATLANTIS colleague, for allowing me to exploit his love for photography. As I have mentioned before, I am not really a picture person – I am not photogenic and I would rather spend my time living in the moment than behind a camera – thus, my friends have graciously allowed me to borrow some of their pictures for my blog – of which I truly appreciate!

Good cooking boys!
Good cooking boys!

I am extremely excited for my defense at MTU this coming Fall (2011)! It is really inspiring to see other ATLANTIS students starting to finish their programs. Margus (the other Estonian) will be coming back to SLU in April to defend his thesis. In addition, two ATLANTIS students currently studying with me at SLU should be defending this summer. Good luck everyone!

On both a historical and ironic note, Arvo’s defense happend to be on Estonian Independence Day (February 24th)! Thursday evening, traditional Estonian meatballs were consumed to celebrate both successful events! Check out the link to learn all about Estonia’s social and Soviet struggles during their historical quest for independence – very interesting.

Congratulations again, Arvo!